Apr 14, 2014 17:52 Lafayette police union withdraws legislation mandating pay raises Lafayette police union withdraws legislation mandating pay raises In-house decision preferred by council Richard burgess| firstname.lastname@example.org April 14, 2014 Comments LAFAYETTE — The local police union is withdrawing a request for legislation this session that would mandate a 2 percent annual raise for officers. House Bill 794, by state Reps. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, and Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, would have required Lafayette city-parish government to give the raise to Police Department employees following every year that city sales tax collections rise by at least 3 percent. City-Parish President Joey Durel and several City-Parish Council members had objected to the bill, arguing legislators in Baton Rouge should not control local budget decisions. The legislation was filed at the request of the Police Association of Lafayette, and in a letter to the council members this week, Association President Cpl. Dorian Brabham said the union will ask Robideaux to withdraw the bill in the hopes police pay will be a priority in the next round of city-parish budget talks. “We as an association have come to an agreement to afford the City-Parish Council and the administration an opportunity to address the police salaries in the upcoming budget meetings,” Brabham wrote. “It is our hope that the council and the administration would work together to draft a competitive pay plan for the Police Department.” At a March 19 council meeting, Durel and council members criticized the legislation as an unfunded state mandate but also sympathized with officers in their desire for better pay. “We would prefer to deal with it locally, as opposed to having Baton Rouge tell us how it should be done,” Councilman Don Bertrand said at the time. That stance was shared by Police Chief Jim Craft, who said better salaries are needed to attract and keep officers but that pay should be addressed locally. Durel told the officers who attended the meeting that “you’ve got our attention.” Starting pay for Lafayette officers is $2,710 a month, a figure that has actually gone down in recent years, according to information from the Police Association. The proposed legislation would have added Lafayette to a list of six other cities under a state mandate to give police officers an annual 2 percent raise — Bossier City, Lake Charles, Jennings, Monroe, Sulphur and Abbeville. State law already mandates all firefighters in Louisiana receive an annual 2 percent raise.